Photo of Cal Pol Authors May 4

Written by Karen Lauritsen on May 18, 2012

How to make a local climate action plan

Why write a book? There are many reasons. One very good one is when a book does not yet exist for your topic. That’s one reason why Michael Boswell, Adrienne Greve and Tammy Seale set about writing Local Climate Action Planning together. They wanted to make a resource that would be accessible to planners, public officials, citizens, students and anyone else interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in their community through Climate Action Plans (CAP).

At the May 4 Conversations with Cal Poly Authors, the three (Boswell and Greve are Cal Poly faculty with the City and Regional Planning Department and Seale is Sustainability and Climate Change Services Manager at PMC) discussed their book and the challenges and rewards of implementing local climate action plans. Elizabeth Lowham, assistant professor with the Political Science Department at Cal Poly, asked great questions to get the conversation going. Listen to the podcast below.

A community vision

The first voice you’ll hear is Boswell’s. He covers what a CAP is, who is doing them and what they entail. There are already 1,000 in existence throughout the U.S. 160 cities and counties that have done CAPs, but over 1,000 have made a commitment to do so. Ten of the 15 metro areas (yes, Houston!) have plans. At its essence, a CAP is a community’s vision for reducing GHGs (which Seale speaks to later) and how it can prepare for the effects of climate change (which Greve addresses next).

Be local
Next up is Adrienne Greve. She speaks to the importance of developing the best policy for a specific, local context beyond a political lens. For example, if global warming reduces snow pack in a mountain town, the people of that town will understand immediately what that means for ski tourism and their economy. That example may not resonate with the people of a valley community though. Instead, the issue that galvanizes that unique town may be concerns about having enough water for irrigation. Just as rising sea levels may not matter to you in Pheonix, they sure do in L.A.

How we live
The third author voice is Tammy Seale’s, who says, “We’re talking about how we live.” She really gets into the how-to of reducing and mitigating GHGs. My favorite part of her segment is when she begins to talk about her 1920s San Luis Obispo home. Seale also discusses how to inventory emissions that are generated in our daily lives and how to “maximize co-benefits.”

Finally, Lowham gets the conversation going with some great questions starting with — how do you get buy-in for such a debated topic? Hint: it can help to change the name. Also, saving cash gets people’s attention. During this part of the conversation, the four really get into the nitty gritty of successfully implementing Climate Action Plans.

To end this I’d like to celebrate Denmark. Copenhagen, specifically. I learned during this talk that 40% of the population bike there!

Learn more about this Conversations with Cal Poly Authors.
See photos from the event on Kennedy Library Flickr.

– Karen Lauritsen

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